Yoga is a philosophy of life, which also has the potential to create a vibrantly healthy body and mind.
Ashtanga Yoga, practiced in its correct sequential order, gradually leads the practitioner to rediscover his or her fullest potential on all levels of human consciousness — physical, psychological, and spiritual.
Through this practice of correct breathing (Ujjayi Pranayama), postures (asanas), and gazing point (dristhi), we gain control of the senses and a deep awareness of ourselves.
By maintaining this discipline with regularity and devotion, one acquires steadiness of body and mind. "Ashtanga" literally means eight limbs. They are described by Patanjali as:
- Yama (abstinence)
- Niyama (observance)
- Asana (postures)
- Pranayama (breath control)
- Pratyahara (sense withdrawal)
- Dharana (concentration)
- Dhyana (meditation)
- Samadhi (contemplation)
These branches support each other.
Asana practice must be established for proper practice of pranayama and is a key to the development of the yamas and niyamas. Once these four externally-oriented limbs are firmly rooted, the last four internally-oriented limbs will spontaneously evolve over time.
"Vinyasa" means breath-synchronized movement. The breath is the heart of this discipline, and links each asana to the next asana in a precise order. By synchronizing movement with breathing and practising Mula and Uddiyana Bandhas (locks), an intense internal heat is produced. This heat purifies muscles and organs, expelling unwanted toxins as well as releasing beneficial hormones and minerals, which can nourish the body when the sweat is massaged back into the skin. The breath regulates the vinyasa and ensures efficient circulation of blood. The result is a light, strong body.
There are three groups of sequences in the Ashtanga system.
- The Primary Series (yoga chikitsa) detoxifies and aligns the body.
- The Intermediate Series (nadi shodhana) purifies the nervous system by opening and clearing the energy channels.
- The Advanced Series A.B.C.D. (sthira bhaga) integrates the strength and grace of the practice, requiring higher levels of flexibility and humility.
Each level is to be fully developed before proceeding to the next, and the sequential order of asanas is to be meticulously followed. Each posture is a preparation for the next, developing the strength and balance required to move further.
Breath — the continuity of deep, even breathing — cannot be overemphasized in the Ashtanga Yoga system. When breath feeds action, and action feeds posture, each movement becomes gentle, precise and perfectly steady. "Breath is life" according to the teaching of Sri T. Krishnamacharya and Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. Breathing is our most fundamental and vital act and holds a divine essence; exhalation a movement towards God, and inhalation an inspiration from God.
Prana refers to the universal life force and ayama means to regulate or lengthen. Prana is the vital energy needed by our physical and subtle layers, without which the body would perish. It is what keeps us alive. Pranayama is the control of prana through the breath. These techniques rely on breathing through the nostrils.
Approach to pranayama is based on method taught by B.N.S. Iyengar, which he learned from Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, founder of modern yoga. The six pranayamas which are taught are Visama Vritti, Sama Vritti, Naadi Shodana, Sheetali and Bastrika. Visama Vritti and Sama Vritti make body, lungs, heart and nerves strong, Naadi Shodana cleans Nadis (subtle energy channels) and Shakti Chalana brings up the Kundalini. Sheetali is a cooling and Bastrika is a heating pranayama.
The following methods, which support Ashtanga Yoga practice, are also taught regularly in Kadermo.
Yin yoga is a slow-paced style of yoga with asanas that are held for longer periods of time — several minutes per asana is typical. Yin yoga asanas apply moderate stretch to the connective tissues — the tendons, fascia, and ligaments — with the aim of increasing circulation in the joints and improving flexibility. A more meditative approach to yoga, yin aims at cultivating awareness of one's inner silence and bringing to light a universal, interconnecting quality.
Psychosynthesis is an approach to psychology that was developed by Roberto Assagioli. Psychosynthesis is simply a name for the process of personal growth: the natural tendency in each of us to harmonize or synthesize our various aspects at ever more inclusive levels of organization. In its more specific sense, Psychosynthesis is a name for the conscious attempt to cooperate with the natural process of personal development. All living things contain within them a drive to evolve, to become the fullest realization of themselves. This process can be supported consciously, and Psychosynthesis is one means to do this.
Anatomy of Wholeness
David Gorman has been teaching people since 1978, using the Alexander Technique and the approach he developed, LearningMethods. He has become widely known for his innovative and unique approach to making our human functioning understandable, relevant and fascinating, an approach he calls Anatomy of Wholeness. David brings his latest insights to workshops which are an annual event in Kadermo. See: events & fees